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August 30, 2013

South Asia: Unexpected Outcome

A young patient meets Jesus along a painful journey of recovery from a severe burn.

  • Extraordinary Care

    Chandra received compassionate medical care for her severe burns, but the spiritual care she received from Christians made an even bigger difference in her life.

A bright-eyed and lovely young woman named Chandra* came to our hospital for treatment after an exposed electrical wire left a severe burn across her scalp, hand, torso, and leg.

The hand burn was especially serious, reaching all the way to her bone, and her wounds were already infected when she arrived. Under normal circumstances, we would have either referred her to a different facility or amputated her hand. But we happened to have a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Moore*, who would be visiting the hospital the following week. So we kept Chandra in the hospital and cared for her wounds.

In the meantime, emotional trauma piled onto physical pain for Chandra. Her husband came to the hospital, told her he was leaving, and took all her possessions. She has no children and was devastated. Our pastoral care workers supported her, and our staff rallied around her to provide love and encouragement.

When Dr. Moore arrived, Chandra’s medical treatments commenced in earnest. She had a skin graft applied to her scalp. The burns on her torso and leg gradually healed, but the wound on her hand required drastic measures. Her hand was sewn to her groin area for almost two weeks in order to transfer healthy tissue from her groin to the burn area. After detachment, her hand again became infected, but with careful wound care, the infection gradually cleared.

As time went on, Chandra worked daily with a physical therapist. Staff changed her dressing regularly and administered medications. But just as importantly, Chandra’s spirit was being restored. She was invited to our fellowships and attended church. She was given new shoes and clothing. Our staff prayed with her. Chandra was not just a  patient, she became like family. During doctors’ rounds each morning, her smile lit up the room.

When Dr. Moore left town almost two months later, there was still some work to be done on Chandra’s hand. We coordinated with a hand specialist in a nearby city who agreed to care for Chandra free of charge. At our Thanksgiving celebration, we asked our fellow workers to help support her travel, food, and lodging in the new city. We received $650, the exact amount needed to cover these costs.

Chandra spent the next two months there. One surgery and lots of physical therapy later, her hand function had improved. More importantly, during her time at the Christian guesthouse where she was supported and cared for, Chandra became a follower of Christ. Her husband even called her and asked her to come home, although she hasn’t yet decided whether she will return. But out of Chandra’s great pain and suffering, a beautiful outcome emerged – hope.

-Written by a doctor in South Asia
-Photo provided by doctor

*not their real names